Can Terrelle Pryor avoid a third straight game with an egregious interception?
No. 2’s numbers aren’t bad in the last two games: 26 of 35 for 361 yards with four passing touchdowns and two interceptions. But two weeks ago at Minnesota, he was picked off near the goal line, and against Penn State his interception was the result of a poor throwing decision. Although Pryor said after the game that he “played terrible,” coach Jim Tressel said that’s not necessarily the case.
“Terrelle is such a perfectionist and the expectations that everyone has for him are perfection,” Tressel said. “But he made some plays [against Penn State] that were certainly very, very important.”
Interceptions could prove costly against Iowa, which has 15 interceptions this season. Cornerback Brett Greenwood leads the conference with four picks.
Is there any stopping Dan ‘Boom’ Herron?
Herron is on quite a run, so to speak. He’s coming off back-to-back 100-yard games, including a career-high 190 yards last week against Penn State. Herron now stands third in the Big Ten with 105 yards rushing per game.
Furthermore, he has scored at least one touchdown in nine consecutive games and the Buckeyes are 17-3 when Herron has a rushing touchdown. Expect OSU to hand off to “Boom” early and often against a Hawkeye defense that is first in the conference in rushing defense and second in both scoring and total defense. Iowa has allowed only one 100-yard rusher this season.
Will the real Iowa offense please stand up?
The Hawkeye offense averages more than 400 yards of offense and 30 points per game. Senior quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who hails from Tressel’s hometown of Mentor, Ohio, has thrown for nearly 2,500 yards, tossing 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
Stanzi, who did not play against OSU last year because of an injury, has put up big numbers the last two weeks (560 yards, three touchdowns). However, the Iowa offense has sputtered as whole, recording only 35 points in the last two weeks against Indiana and Northwestern. That’s not going to cut it against the OSU defense, which ranks first in the Big Ten in scoring and total defense.
Can the OSU offensive line handle Adrian Clayborn?
Iowa has a man among boys along its defensive line in Clayborn, a 6-foot-4-inch, 285-pound pass-rusher who was born to sack quarterbacks. A projected first-round pick in the April draft, Clayborn, much like OSU defensive end Cam Heyward, has dealt with constant double teams this season and thus has not repeated his 2009 numbers.
Nevertheless, Tressel said Clayborn and the rest of the Iowa defensive line will provide their counterparts on the OSU offensive line with a great challenge come Saturday.
“They’re very, very powerful and very consistent,” Tressel said. “In games where you might have a 7-yard run, against them it’s three.”
Are Iowa and OSU fans in store for another classic game?
Last season in the de facto Big Ten Championship game, Iowa, led by redshirt freshman quarterback James Vandenberg, overcame a 24-10 deficit with just more than 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
However, OSU came out on top thanks to Devin Barclay’s game-winning 39-yard field goal, which sent OSU to its first Rose Bowl in 13 years.
The last time OSU visited Iowa was in 2006, when top-ranked OSU thumped Iowa 38-17 with quarterback Troy Smith’s four touchdown passes and running back Antonio Pittman’s 117 rushing yards.